The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has warned the public against buying statement shirts with quotes supposedly uttered by Pope Francis, who is scheduled to have an Apostolic Visit to the Philippines next month.
“While the words in the shirt attempt to convey the openness of the Holy Father, the phrases “NO RACE NO RELIGION” are definitely misleading and quite frankly erroneous,” CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
The Archbishop explained that Pope Francis “is aware of the fact that he heads an organized religion with a vast membership throughout the world.” He added that for the Argentinian pontiff, “race forms part of the identity of individuals and of peoples.”
According to Villegas, Pope Francis “has never said and taught that religion and race do not matter.” “It is what selfish, uncharitable and judgmental people do with religion and race that is a problem,” he said.
“We urge our Catholic faithful not to patronize items with these misleading posts and statements,” Villegas reiterated.
While the Archbishop did not specify any merchandise retailer, the website www.SplendorOfTheChurch.com.ph last night faulted ABS-CBN for selling shirts carrying “distorted” quotes of Pope Francis.
UPDATE, 3:00 PM: ABS-CBN has announced that it is pulling out the controversial shirts from the market.
In a statement, ABS-CBN spokesperson Bong Osorio said the network has “no intent to deceive or mislead the public through the commemorative shirt that carry statements inspired by Pope Francis’ message of love, openness, and humility.”